Friday, January 20, 2017

Dalai Lama Will Live 100 Years

China is not having a good year. With today's inauguration of incoming President Donald Trump, who railed against China as a "currency manipulator" and set aside years of American diplomatic policy by taking a call from the president of Taiwan, the Chinese government can't be happy. Furthermore, Trump's pledge to rein in outsourcing to Chinese firms could put a significant dent in the country's economy, should it come to pass.

And now there's this. At a festival celebrating his 80th birthday, the Dalai Lama, a longstanding thorn in the Chinese government's side, declared that he would live to be at least 100 years old. If accurate, that means he has at least twenty more years to spend advocating for a free Tibet, an issue that the Chinese government would dearly love to see just go away.

“Today, the people and deities of Tibet have made prayers for my long life. Doctors also suggest that I could live another 20 years or more. I’m 80 now; let’s plan to celebrate again when I’m 90,” His Holiness told the thousands of Tibetans and devotees, who welcomed the statement with a thunderous applause and cheers.

“Although there is no freedom in Tibet, people there too are praying for my long life, even if they can’t do so openly, but they have faith, devotion and a special connection with me. I’d like to thank you all,” His Holiness said, greeting Tibetans inside Tibet.

The grand two-day celebration of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday was attended by a battery of top Indian leaders including Cabinet ministers Dr. Mahesh Sharma and Mr. Kiren Rijiju, Chief Minister Shri Virbhadra Singh, Chief Minister Mr. Nabam Tuki, Ms. Viplove Thakur, Member of Parliament among others.

In fact, it was the first time in the history of Tibetan exile that a cabinet minister from the central government of India has visited Dharamshala to attend a Tibetan function. The leaders on their part also expressed their prayers for His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s long life and implored him to take care of his health.

China has made some premptive moves to prepare for when the Dalai Lama finally passes away, such as writing into a law a ban on unauthorized reincarnation. Granted, it's hard to see how such a thing could be enforced, but the idea is to undermine the legitimacy of whoever is recognized as the Dalai Lama's next incarnation. Before that, they spirited away the child recognized as the next Panchen Lama, who traditionally "certifies" each of the Dalai Lama's incarnations.

Chinese government officials are likely hoping that the Dalai Lama passes away sooner rather than later, so they can put into practice these plans to undermine traditional Tibetan Buddhism. Twenty more years of the status quo will only frustrate them further, which provides a great incentive for the Dalai Lama to take care of his health and keep on living.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Donald Trump's Prayer Shield

Evangelicals will tell you that they don't use magick, but that's not true in any meaningful sense. They call it "prayer," but when it's done towards any specific defined objective it's the exact same thing. The only difference is that ceremonial magicians optimize ritual procedures to make them work better, while the "prayer" method seems to rely on simple visualization combined with strong emotions.

That doesn't mean it can't work, though, and apparently a bunch of evangelicals are coming together to create a magical "prayer shield" around President-Elect Donald Trump at tomorrow's inauguration. Naturally, these folks want to bring America "back to God," presumably by driving all forms of religious expression but their own from the public square.

It is our time to storm heaven for a New America, revival in our land, and to bring our country back to God! We are the redeemed of the Lord who are coming to raise up a shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit.

The Lord has summoned a prolific council of prelates and prophets to convene in Washington, D.C. one week prior to the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States of America. These servants of God are especially gifted to discern the times and to prophesy the Word of The Lord, even so as we seek to prepare the way for transformation, reformation, and revival in our nation.

We are called to gather in the nation’s capital and to raise up a shield of prayer and prophetic understanding, grounded in the firm foundation of the immutable Word of God, and inspired with fresh revelation by the Spirit of The Lord. These proven leaders are convening to release the Word of the Lord, and to lead this anointed assembly in powerful prayers, intercession, declarations and decrees over the White House, the Supreme Court, and Capitol Hill.

I have seen many Trump supporters complaining about people who want "safe spaces," but really, that's exactly what the Poor Oppressed Christians are asking for when they pray like this. Apparently, their faith is so fragile that they find the mere existence of other beliefs horrific and traumatizing. It's rather hypocritical of them to argue that they, and they alone, are entitled to special protection from having their feelings hurt.

Remember when I mentioned that the Moon can be used to conjure a sort of "magical cloak" that protects you from psychic influences? That's basically all a "prayer shield" is. So if there are any magicians on here interested in casting through the thing, you can call upon the angel of the Moon to take it down or punch a hole through it, and then cast whatever else you want once it's bypassed.

You know, for entertainment purposes only - and because today just happens to be the day of Jupiter, which is perfect for political operations.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Weirdest Scandal Ever?

Probably not. But it's still pretty weird.

Slate has an article up today about a Seattle neuroscientist named Larry Farwell. Farwell was one of the early researchers exploring the possibility of EEG-based brain-computer interfaces, technology that led to the development of my Emotiv Insight consumer EEG headset. Slate published the article in the first place because Donald Trump's nominee for National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, was briefly involved with one of Farwell's companies. So it's actually not that much of a scandal per se, but it still makes for fascinating reading.

Farwell got his bachelor’s degree at Harvard University. For 10 years after graduation he invested in real estate and studied transcendental meditation, among other avocational pursuits. (He’s also been a semiprofessional swing-dance performer and a broadsword-wielding black belt in kung fu with a penchant for the flying kick.) Finally, in 1984, Farwell went back to school for a Ph.D. in neuroscience in the lab of the brain-electrode pioneer Emanuel Donchin.

Farwell produced extraordinary work while a student in the Donchin lab. In 1988, four years before completing his graduate degree, he and Donchin devised one of the first brain-computer interfaces for converting thought directly into speech. Their system worked through electroencephalography, or EEG—the measurement of broad oscillations in the brain’s electrical activity by electrodes placed atop the scalp.

Donchin had expertise in a particular EEG brain-wave pattern called the “P300,” which corresponds to a brief change in voltage that shows up on neural traces about half a second after people are presented with a meaningful or surprising stimulus. (The name P300 refers to the fact that this signal can appear as soon as 300 milliseconds after the triggering sound or image.)

So right off the bat, Farwell sounds like quite the character. Farwell and Donchin employed the P300 response to develop their brain-computer interface, which presented subjects with a series of letters. The subject would then concentrate on the letter he or she wished to communicate. When they did, an EEG would pick up the P300, which tightly correlated with concentrated attention.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Brazilian Vampire Bats Feeding on Humans

For the most part, vampire bats get a bad rap. Even though the creatures helped to inspire Bram Stoker's famous novel Dracula, in real life vampire bats are not know to seek out humans as prey. That is, until now. Thanks to DNA analysis, Brazilian scientists have recently identified a species of vampire bat that appears to have developed a taste for human blood.

However, recent reports have confirmed what humans dread the most—that some of these wild creatures have been proven to include people’s blood in their diet. According to the New York Post, some species of the winged-mammals, which are commonly found soaring across America, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina, have indeed been secretly sucking human blood.

Scientists at Federal University of Pernambuco in Recife, Brazil claim that a colony of hairy-legged vampire bats are the culprits, after tracing human DNA from 70 feces samples of these bats. Enrico Bernard, the lead researcher from the university, said he and his team “were quite surprised” by their recent findings. “This species isn’t adapted to feed on the blood of mammals,” he revealed.

The chilling revelation contradicts previous experiments on the air-gliding critters, which reflected that they would rather starve than eat any other mammal blood. Bernard said that its no longer the case with these bats, who seemed to discover that human blood is thicker and higher in protein than the fatty bird plasma.

There's no word as of yet on any connection between this strain of bat and actual vampires, or any increase in the numbers of the Brazilian undead. But scientists do fear that this new strain of vampire bat could contribute to the spread of diseases. The bats fly and are also far tinier than what vampire hunters are used to, so driving little bat-sized stakes through their hearts is quite impractical.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Introduction to Enochian Magick

This article is the text of my presentation given on Saturday, January 14 2017, at my local Ordo Templi Orientis body, Leaping Laughter Lodge in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

Welcome to Leaping Laughter Lodge. My name is Scott Stenwick, and I am the author of Mastering the Mystical Heptarchy and Mastering the Great Table. Tonight I will be presenting an introduction to the Enochian magical system of John Dee and Edward Kelley.

The Renaissance and Middle Ages produced many grimoires, a term referring to books of magick that include spirit names, sigils, hierarchies, conjurations, and so forth. In recent years, grimoire magick has grown in popularity. But where exactly did the material found in those grimoires come from? Generally speaking, it seems reasonable to suggest that such books were written down by magicians who obtained their methodologies from working directly with the spirits named in, or associated with, the grimoire in question.

This process, though, remains largely mysterious with one key exception. In the late 16th century, John Dee spent seven years working with a scryer named Edward Kelley, and together the two men transcribed one of the most remarkable systems of magick in all of history. Dee was one of the most learned men in England, and owned one of the largest libraries in Europe at his home in Mortlake. He undertook magical work with Kelley because he sought insights into the nature of spiritual reality that he could not find in his books.

Dee meticulously documented his work with Kelley, along with all of the material that the two of them received from the various angels that they conjured and communicated with. The records that we have span the full seven years, and include all of the back and forth that went on between the two men and the angels. So in effect, the Enochian system is the only grimoire, or set of grimoires, on the planet for which we have the underlying “source code,” to use a computer programming metaphor. It is likely that such processes produced other grimoires as well, but we are not privy to any records of those operations because they have been lost over time – if they were ever even written down at all.

Neither Dee nor Kelley ever referred to the resulting system as "Enochian." This term was coined much later, as in the diaries documenting the work, Dee expressed a desire to walk with God as did the mythological Enoch. Also, the spirits revealed to them an opening prayer that was described as the "Prayer of Enoch." Dee and Kelley usually referred to the magical system and the unique language found within it as "Angelical" - that is, "Angelic" in modern parlance - when they referred to either by name at all. I refer to the system as Enochian in my own works only because that is the name that modern people best know and associate with the system.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Monkey God City Still Cursed

Here's something that Indiana Jones never had to contend with. Following the legend of a cursed 16th century city in Honduras dubbed "the City of the Monkey God," explorers considered themselves especially fortunate when they worked out its location in 2015. But recently, when they arrived at the site, they discovered the totally mundane reason that the city was abandoned. The place turned out to be infested with a rare flesh-eating parasite that devours the faces of those it infects.

Legend has it that the locals fled Honduras’ City of the Monkey God in the 16th century fearing that it had been cursed with disease. Five-hundred years later, a group of explorers excavating the lost city became the latest victims to incur the wrath of the monkey god when they nearly lost their faces to a rare flesh-eating parasite.

“The parasite migrates to the mucous membranes of your mouth and your nose and basically eats them away,” Doug Preston, an author who documented the trip, said. “Your nose falls off, your lips fall off, and eventually your face becomes a gigantic, open sore.”

The group, made up of American and Honduran explorers and archeologists, announced they found the lost city, also known as the Ciudad Blanca or the White City, in 2015. The city earned its name, according to American explorer Theodore Morde, because of indigenous legends stating it contained a giant buried statue of a monkey god. Morde claimed to be the first to find the lost city after returning from an expedition, but died before he could return.

So yeah, that sounds like a pretty nasty curse to me. If people in my city started losing their faces, I would leave too. The takeaway, I suppose, is that many of these abandoned sites were abandoned for perfectly good reasons. Sometimes those reasons have to do with events that are long over, but sometimes they endure. Presumably, the city was built too close to where these parasites live, and the residents began to become infected at an accelerated rate before the mass exodus.

The article also notes that in order to reach the site, the explorers had to contend with Indiana Jones' most feared and hated foes, poisonous snakes. So at least that's one place where the movies tell it like it is.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Why "Gingers Have No Souls"

It's funny, she looks pretty soulful to me...

At this point I think just about everybody has seen the South Park episode where Cartman becomes the leader of an "anti-ginger" hate group, and explains to his followers that "Gingers have no souls." When I saw the episode, I was convinced that Trey Parker and Matt Stone made the whole thing up in order to build an episode around the most ridiculous hate group imaginable. But then, I recently came across this article, which claims that there is in fact a long tradition of prejudice against redheads, dating back to ancient times.

During the Middle Ages, a child born with red hair was thought to have been conceived during ‘unclean’ sex, or during menstruation.

In ancient Egypt, redheaded men were sometimes burned alive as a sacrifice to the gods.

Redheads were particularly persecuted during the witch trials in Europe between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries, as the colour was linked to the devil and the pale skin most redheads have was seen as deathly and unnatural.

Even though grimoire traditionalists will tell you that the older an idea is, the more likely it is to be correct, it should be obvious that this one is clearly pretty dumb. Much like the ludicrous African idea that the body parts of albinos have special magical powers, there's nothing particularly infernal or for that matter magical about having red hair. In fact, I can't say that I've ever come across any evidence that traits like hair color correspond to anything spiritual at all, one way or the other. The same is true of ethnicity.

The reality is that if you are talking about genetic variation, the differences between individual humans are tiny compared to those found between individuals of many other species. A little over a hundred years ago, Theosophists developed a complex metaphysical theory involving "the races," but at a genetic level, all "race" represents is a set of adaptations to local environmental conditions. Skin gets darker towards the equator to protect against skin cancer, and lighter as you move away from the equator to help the body synthesize vitamin D from limited sunlight.

So amazingly, it turns out that "anti-ginger" prejudice is or at least was a thing. But like most forms of prejudice, it is an ill-informed idea based on superficial characteristics that should be done away with.